How to Reduce the Risk of Employee Churn Amid the Big Quit

How to Reduce the Risk of Employee Churn Amid the Big Quit

Turns out the pandemic prompted mass numbers of employees finally say, “take this job and shove it” to employers and careers they don’t like. Life is too short to be miserable at work.

In a recent NICE Webinar, we discussed how job quit rates have hit a historic high—even while the economy is still recovering from two years of furloughs and layoffs. This is often referred to as The Great Resignation.

Enlightening research from Gallup gathered in March of 2021 found that 48% of the working population in the United States is actively job-hunting or seeking out new opportunities.[1]

So, while we watch the labor market churn with no signs of settling, how can businesses avoid the costs of high turnover rates?

employee churn 

“Agent attrition was 60% higher in 2021 with 58% more jobs available.”[2]

The answer is you must become an “employer of choice” to compete for the best workers.

To understand what’s happening in the labor market, consider the reasons people are leaving their jobs right now. I call these The Big Four.

big four churn

The Big Four

  1. Health concerns are causing people to retire early

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 3.6 million people retired during the pandemic versus the 1.5 million that was expected.[3] And data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City shows that an additional 2 million workers unexpectedly retired from the U.S. workforce in 2021—and stayed retired.[4]

  1. People are leaving the workforce and returning home

This change is especially true for families with children. With rising daycare costs and schools shifting to at-home learning, some of these families have simplified their lives by becoming single-income homes. They may have also realized they could survive on one income during the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, 1.62 million additional women remain out of the workforce even now:[5]

woman working on laptop 
  1. Workers are exploring more options

Employees have had time to reflect on their careers. It's easy to feel trapped in a bad job when you've got bills to pay. But when people were forced out of jobs by the lockdowns and layoffs, it gave many a chance to consider what they actually want to do. The pandemic also gave employees a reason to re-evaluate their loyalties to their employers based on whether their employers chose to keep people on during a lockdown. Loyalty is a two-way street.

  1. Many people relocated during the pandemic

High taxes and housing costs have prompted workers to relocate to more affordable areas. The growth of the house-price-to-income ratio has exploded, and now it’s even higher than it was during the housing bubble in the early 2000s. In fact, 41% of employed Americans would take a pay cut in order to relocate to a more affordable region.[6]

couple looking high price label 

"According to 83% of employees, a hybrid work model is the best way to provide that balance."[7]

Retention Matters

As of February 2022, there are 11.3 million8 open jobs but only 6.3 million9 unemployed people in the U.S. to fill them. Companies can’t afford to lose highly skilled employees and attempt to hire and train inexperienced replacements from a labor force that has decreased in size from the pandemic.

million jobs vs unemployed

It costs between $25,000 and $100,000 to replace a $50,000-year salaried employee. So, purely by the numbers, it’s cheaper to retain disengaged employees than to replace them. The cost of replacing underperforming workers is many times higher than the productivity loss they cause, so it’s important to retain and engage current staff.

"U.S. businesses are losing $1 trillion per year due to voluntary employee turnover."[8]

However, not all employees are the same. You should focus on retaining high-value employees, especially tenured ones. The intrinsic knowledge that lives in their heads is hard to replace with a manual or a knowledge base.

"Happiness in the workplace makes people 12% more productive."[9]

Here are seven actionable ways to reduce employee churn:

  1. Give agents greater flexibility
  2. Remove friction in the agent experience
  3. Create a two-way feedback street
  4. Give managers support
  5. Improve agent onboarding
  6. Tap into each agent’s sources of motivation
  7. Set a retention intention throughout the agent life cycle

Get more tips by downloading this white paper, Stop the Madness! How to reduce the risk of agent churn and improve retention.

The Customer and Employee Experience Link

Another important focus right now is on the link between employee and customer experience. They’re closely intertwined.

cs experience business satisfaction 

Better employee experience reduces absenteeism and increases employee engagement and productivity. Ultimately, the customer benefits as well. Ensuring your agents are well-trained, equipped, and connected not only drives employee retention but also creates a better customer experience. An improved agent experience can lead to decreased wait times, shortened call times, and increased first contact resolution.

"Organizations that care about employee wellbeing have 2X the customer satisfaction as reflected in their net promoter score."[10]

young business woman 

An easy way to give your customer service team a better experience is by investing in the right tools. It reduces the friction between employees and their job. Just like your customers, employees want tools to effectively solve problems. In fact, 49% of workers say they're likely to leave their current job if they're unhappy or frustrated with workplace technology.[11]

For many agents, getting squeezed by the increased complexity of work and volumes of interactions on top of inadequate tools compounds negative feelings.

hand holding stress ball 

Integrating technology and interaction channels into a unified desktop prevents agents from wasting their time and being frustrated by having to switch between channels. It can also help keep them engaged.

AI tools can handle mundane tasks so agents can work on the more challenging customer requests. Technology can also coach agents in real-time, giving them phrases to say that show empathy. It can also make it easier for agents to access customer details, so customers don’t have to repeat themselves.

One CXone customer integrated all channels, enabling agents to respond concurrently to various channel interactions at once. As a result, they achieved a 20% increase in agent utilization.

But increasing interactions must ramp up slowly to avoid burnout. Consider improving customer self-service to automate an agent’s routine tasks. This technology can decrease burnout by reducing workload and keeping agents engaged with fulfilling work.

exhausted female worker 

All these strategies will improve the agent and customer experience. And we all want happy customers, right?

However, it’s also important to draw lines and find the right balance between valuing your customers over your employees. Forward-thinking organizations set boundaries for acceptable customer behavior and support employees when customers cross the line.

You’ve heard the saying, “the customer is always right.” But that’s not always true, and more importantly, that mentality can cause friction between you and your employees.

upset young business woman 

An executive noted in Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends report:

 “We now realize we had it backward. If we put employees first, they, in turn, take care of our customers, and they, in turn, take care of our shareholders.”[12]

Growing your retention capabilities will put you on the right side of The Great Resignation and help you become an employer of choice. Make your contact center the destination for agents who want to leave their jobs for something better.

[1] Gallup: The Great Resignation is the Really the Great Discontent (2021)

[2] [2] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary – December 2021 (2022)

[3] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age

[4] Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City: What Has Driven the Recent Increase in Retirements? (2021)

[5] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age

[6] High Housing Costs Are One Reason Behind the 'Great Resignation' (2021)

[7] Accenture: Future of Work Study (2021)

[8] Gallup: This Fixable Problem Costs U.S. Businesses $1 Trillion (2019)

[9] Warwick University: Happiness and Productivity (2009)

[10] MIT: Building Business Value with Employee Experience (2018)

[11] Adobe Experience Cloud: State of Work 2021 (2021)

[12] Deloitte: Human Capital Trends report (2017)